Equality v. Tradition

In this atmosphere of the homosexual community screaming for "equality" we're seeing even more and more non-homosexual persons standing up for "equal rights" for the homosexuals.  All over Facebook people are changing their profile picture to a red background with a pink "equal" sign on it.  The big push currently is for homosexual marriage.  As you have seen earlier on this blog, some who support the traditional values of marriage, that is "one man, one woman," have responded with their own profile pictures being changed to red backgrounds with a pink "plus" sign, or a pink cross (which is like the "plus" sign) or an image of a pink man and woman holding hands - or some combination of those.
Some of you reading along here may recall, I've been having a discussion with a friend of mine who has recently "come out of the closet" - at least partially (to trusted friends and family).  This has sparked some articles here on the CathApol Blog.  This friend of mine sent an article to read on this subject, perhaps in response to my posting of alternative profile pics for Facebook, but regardless, it's worth a look...
When I was a freshman in college, the GLBA–Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Alliance– organized an annual Gay Awareness week. What I remember most was “Jean Day.” The student leaders of the GLBA posted signs all over campus announcing that students could express their support for gay rights by wearing jeans on Thursday. Of course denim is a second skin for most college students, and it was obvious the GLBA was seeking to inflate their perception of support. The tactic was so transparent few people paid attention—until a conservative Christian student group began putting up their own signs. Their flyers called students who did not support gay rights to “wear a shirt on Thursday.
The battle lines were drawn. The silliness of the GBLA’s scheme was matched by the stupidity of the Christians’.
Thursday came and members of the GBLA went to class in blue jeans and topless. (Some women wearing only bras.) The conservative Christians marched to class wearing khakis and in some cases multiple shirts, proudly doing their part to “uphold righteousness.” Eventually the two groups got into a heated shouting match. The shirts accused the skins of being godless and immoral. The denims accused the khakis of being bigots and homophobes.
As I watched the scene unfold, the voice of my high school teacher echoed in my head. “Just remember,” he’d told me, “college isn’t the real world.”
Sadly the real world has proven to look more like my college experience than I would have hoped, only now the shouting between the gay community and Christians happens on cable news, talk radio, outside courthouses and in school board meetings. Still, there are many of us–both gay and straight, Christian and non-Christian, supporters of same sex marriage, and those like myself who hold to the church’s traditional definition–who do not identify with the culture war rhetoric emanating from either side. We stand on the periphery wondering: isn't there a better way?
Well, good question, "Is there a better way?" I would start off by saying this author did not need to use "stupidity of the Christians."  Both sides were being a bit silly in this "debate" and those who did not support homosexual rights were actually being quite clever, probably not expecting some of the supporters, especially the female ones, to come to class without a shirt.  The "response" was more to counter the silliness of the homosexual supporters who called for the wearing of jeans, which is quite common on a college campus.  As if anyone wearing jeans that day were automatically supporting homosexual rights.

That being said, I do not oppose "equal rights" - but what I do support is the "right" for society to "hold strong to that which we have been taught, whether by word of mouth or by epistle."  (2 Thes. 2:15)  It is through both that Christians object to and reject homosexuality.  Verses which reference directly or indirectly the sin of homosexuality:  
Genesis 19:1-11  Leviticus 18:22   Leviticus 20:13  Judges 19:16-24   1 Kings 14:24    1 Kings 15:12   2 Kings 23:7    Romans 1:18-32   1 Corinthians 6:9-11   1 Timothy 1:8-10   Jude 7
In a discussion I has having with one of my sons, he stated that someone challenged that where the Bible speaks against homosexuality, it is only in the Old Testament (OT).  Well, clearly one can see that there are ample verses in the New Testament (NT) too.  Perhaps what has changed in the NT is how we are to deal with such sinners.  In the OT the punishment for getting caught in a homosexual act was to be stoned to death.  In the NT when Jesus is confronted by an angry mob wishing to stone to death a woman caught in prostitution (also a crime punishable by stoning to death in the OT), Jesus challenged them, "He who is without sin, cast the first stone."  Those who were about to stone her dropped their rocks and walked away.  But did Jesus end there?  No, he turned to the sinner and said, "Go and sin no more."  He did not excuse her sin and give his blessing to continue in the sinful lifestyle - no - He told her to not sin anymore.  In short, it was an example in how to "love the sinner, but hate the sin."

Is Homosexuality A Choice?

Well, again, that question has been at the root of this debate for a long time - perhaps since the debate on the subject began.  Ultimately one must conclude it is a matter of choice for someone to engage in homosexual -OR- heterosexual -OR- a celibate lifestyle.  Anything we "do" is something we have choice in "doing" and thus "responsibility" for what we "do."  Essentially ANY sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful.  Sex before marriage is fornication and sex with someone who is not your spouse after marriage is adultery.  Perhaps this is what motivates proponents of homosexual marriage.  If such a "marriage" is accepted - then the next step would be to accept the sin as well.  Through the backdoor they are getting us to accept not only the sinner, but the sin too.  But back to the question of this section, is homosexuality a choice?  Again, our answer must be a resilient YES!  If we believe it is not a choice, then there can be no fault, no sin - but clearly God's Word on the matter is that it IS sin and therefore MUST be a matter of choice.  

Is Homosexuality By Nature?

Well, if homosexuality were the natural course - "life" itself would last no more than one generation for there can be no procreation in a homosexual relationship.  Nature demands heterosexuality in order for the species to continue.  The argument of "I was born this way" just does not apply to matters where we CHOOSE to do what we DO.  Does that mean that a man cannot be "turned on" by another man or a woman by another woman?  By no means!  In fact for some that "forbidden fruit" makes it that much more tantalizing to engage in.  But again, nothing in "nature" dictates that homosexuality is a "natural" lifestyle and would be actually contrary to "nature."  

How About the Facebook Profile Pic "War?"

Well, perhaps this meme puts it a bit into perspective:



How Could He?!

Well, he can because, um - he's POPE!  Contrary to some reports, Pope Francis did not break "Canon Law" in performing the foot washing ceremony on Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday).  It is true that this action was contrary to the tradition of the Church, but this was not a Sacrament.  The non-sacramental ritual is traditionally performed on twelve men selected from the congregation because the first time this was done there were twelve men, and only The Twelve, the Apostles.   Does this mean this ceremony can only involve men?  Well, that conclusion is more of an assumption than a given.  
The community in which Jesus washed feet was in the community of His Apostles.  The community in which Pope Francis washed feet was in a juvenile detention center which houses both male and female.  To separate the females in this community could have carried a message of segregation which Pope Francis did not wish to convey.
Many radical Traditionalists (RadTrads) are all up in arms about this, stating it is indicative of the Pope having an agenda to ordain women to the priesthood.  Some may even be accusing the Pope of heresy, but there is no heresy in breaking with this tradition.  Essentially, those who argue negatively about Pope Francis' action are on a slippery slope if they conclude heresy over this non-sacramental ceremony.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said he didn’t want to wade into a canonical dispute over the matter. However, he noted that in a “grand solemn celebration” of the rite, only men are included because Christ washed the feet of his 12 apostles, all of whom were male.“Here, the rite was for a small, unique community made up also of women,” Lombardi wrote in an email. “Excluding the girls would have been inopportune in light of the simple aim of communicating a message of love to all, in a group that certainly didn’t include experts on liturgical rules.”  Salt Lake Tribune 
This was not the first time Francis had washed female feet. As Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio and archbishop of Buenos Aires, he often included women in the gesture. However as pope, his move was quietly groundbreaking. In their later years John Paul II and Benedict XVI had restricted the rite to 12 Catholic priests.   The Guardian 
The Vatican's chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the pope's decision was "absolutely licit" for a rite that is not a church sacrament. Francis also took into account "the real situation, the community where one celebrates," Lombardi added.  Cleveland.com

This is moving. Jesus, washing the feet of his disciples. Peter didn’t understood it at all, he refused. But Jesus explained it for him. Jesus — God — did this! He himself explains to his disciples: “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord — and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you” (Jn 13:12-15).It is the Lord’s example: he is the most important, and he washes feet, because with us what is highest must be at the service of others. This is a symbol, it is a sign, right? Washing feet means: “I am at your service”. And with us too, don’t we have to wash each other’s feet day after day? But what does this mean? That all of us must help one another. Sometimes I am angry with someone or other ... but... let it go, let it go, and if he or she asks you a favour, do it.    L'Osservatore Romano
As I have been telling others - let us not rush to judgment of this pope.  Is it a break with tradition?  Yes.  Was this a matter of heresy?  No.  


Marriage Meme

With all the "equality" memes on Facebook and elsewhere, we thought we'd offer some which support traditional marriage.  Consider downloading one or more of these and changing your Facebook profile picture to it.


New Experiments on the Shroud Show It is from the First Century

For those interested in The Shroud of Turin, like I am, you have got to read about this from the Vatican Insider.

Professor Giulio Fanti and journalist Saverio Gaeta have published a book with the results of some chemical and mechanical tests which confirm that the Shroud dates back to the 1st century

New scientific experiments carried out at the University of Padua have apparently confirmed that the Shroud Turin can be dated back to the 1st century AD. This makes its compatible with the tradition which claims that the cloth with the image of the crucified man imprinted on it is the very one Jesus’ body was wrapped in when he was taken off the cross. The news will be published in a book by Giulio Fanti, professor of mechanical and thermal measurement at the University of Padua’s Engineering Faculty, and journalist Saverio Gaeta, out tomorrow. “Il Mistero della Sindone” (The Mystery of the Shroud) is edited by Rizzoli (240 pp, 18 Euro).

Read the rest here.


Death of Death

The following is a sermon, not my words - not even a Catholic's words.  As many of you know, I am a former Lutheran, and every so often I happen to be in my car listening to the radio and "The Lutheran Hour" comes on.  Last Sunday, Palm Sunday, was one of those times.  Sometimes I marvel at just how close to the truth Lutherans can be - but just lacking the fullness I found.   Anyway, Pastor Klaus gave this sermon and it's really quite good, so I thought I would share...

"The Death of Death" #80-29
Presented on The Lutheran Hour on March 24, 2013 (Palm Sunday)
By Rev. Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour
(Q&A Topic:God's Plan?)
Copyright 2013 Lutheran Hour Ministries

Text: 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Today the Christian world prepares to remember the passion, the suffering, and the death of the Christ. It is a sad story, a powerful story, and if it ends at the cross and with a dead body in a borrowed tomb, it is an incomplete story. Today we invite you to come and see the Savior who gave His life to defeat death and save you. By God's grace may you know the living Lord gives life eternal to all who believe. God grant this believing to us all. Amen.

A reading from the Bible, from the 15th chapter of Paul's 1st letter to the Church in Corinth: "'O death where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?' The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." During my years in the parish I conducted well over 300 Christian funerals. To the best of my memory those words were read at every one of those services. Because of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He made in winning our forgiveness and salvation, St. Paul is almost taunting as he challenges: "Death where is your victory; death where is your sting?"

Those words are appropriate at Christian funerals, but they are quite out of place at the memorial service of someone who had no use for Jesus or the redemption which He won on Calvary's cross. As a friend of a mourning family, I have attended a number of those non-Christian services. The message of comfort that Christ alone can give is replaced by a eulogy of the dearly departed.

You know how it goes...the eulogy usually begins with a recap of the deceased's birth and early years. Time is spent in telling what that person had done in life, who they had loved, and, if the speaker is being honest, a little bit about the individual's sins and shortcomings. Normally, the majority of the message centers on how the deceased affected those around him. The last part of a well-rounded eulogy shares some information concerning the individuals last days and hours and how his or her departure has changed our outlook on life. This is the pattern this Lutheran Hour message is going to take as I, at the beginning of Christianity's Holy Week, give a funeral message for death.

Yes, you heard correctly; today we preach a funeral message for death. You are acquainted with death, aren't you? No, I'm not going to imply that he is your best and dearest friend. For most of us he is hardly that. Still, in humanity's history, he has been a force to be reckoned with. Although it's hard for us to imagine, there was a time when death and its influence was unfelt in this world. After God had finished His creation, He looked around and pronounced everything "very good." That means there was no death. Indeed, there never would have been such a person as death if it hadn't been for a dalliance which took place between the devil and disobedient humankind.

Search as you will, you will never find a hospital record recording death's weight and length at birth. Even so, we do know when death drew his first breath. After Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit, God plainly told them, "for you are dust and to dust you shall return." (Gen. 3:19b) Even as a newborn, death gave an indication of his future abilities when the Lord slaughtered animals to clothe His fallen children. These animals, once Adam and Eve's friends, possibly their pets, were killed for their pelts. Each day's wearing would remind the humans of what they had done. Of course, Death didn't stop with such minor conquests. He grew, he became stronger, more efficient, and within a short time, Cain murdered his brother, Abel.

Parents know that children grow quickly, and as they grow, they like to challenge their boundaries and abilities. It was no different for Death. In no time at all, Death considered the entire world to be his playpen. He found himself adept at activities like Hide-And-Seek. Hide anywhere you wanted, he would find you. Run as fast as you could, Death would catch you. He never tired of his endless game. He never napped; he never rested. He just grew stronger.

In an obituary, it is right to speak of an individual's good qualities. Death had some attributes which might appear, to some, as being admirable. For example, it can never be said that death had any favorites. In a global flood he managed to destroy all of humanity, with the exception of eight who were rescued by God's intervention. Similarly, it must be confessed that Death was not awed by wealth or rank. Equally, and efficiently, he came to all races, all places, and yes, all ages. True, there were times when certain age groups received special attention. In Egypt, the Hebrew baby boys were killed; in Bethlehem, the little ones didn't escape Herod's henchmen. As we list Death's attributes, we have to say he was never a "here today, gone tomorrow" kind of guy. On the contrary, constancy was his middle name. Oh, and we dare not forget creativity when we list Death's qualities. He was unpredictable in his visits. He might turn a woman into a pillar of salt or open the earth to swallow some serious sinners. You just never knew what he would do. We do know over the years Death became capable and competent, efficient and effective.

Which is not to say he was perfect. Although Death's success rate was impressive, his record was not flawless. Enoch managed to walk with God and got away from death. Elijah was given a chariot ride which took the prophet beyond Death's clutches. But these were the rare exceptions and not the rule. Daniel, Shadrach, Meschach, Abednego, Jairus' daughter, a young man from Nain, and Lazarus, might, by Divine intervention, elude him for a while, but Death was patient. Eventually he would have them all.

And so the centuries passed. Strong men's strength would wither and waste away when Death approached. The powerful love of a mother or father could not keep Death away from their children's bedside. His arrival at a sickbed was occasionally welcomed, but most often his appearance was dreaded by human eyes. Death was, at one-and-the-same-time, the immovable object and the irresistible force. To all who watched him at work, it appeared as if he was and always would be undefeatable, unstoppable, inescapable, and unconquerable.

But then, as Scripture says it, in the fullness of God's time, another Baby was born into this world. Death readily, and quite rightly, recognized this Child as God's Son, his Competition. Death could make this identification because the two had met before. Jesus had been there at the fall when God offered words of hope and salvation to Adam and Eve. The two had met when God shut the door on Noah's Ark. They had met when the Lord pulled Lot out of condemned Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus and death had met in the fiery furnace of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Yes, they had met before, but Jesus' birth put a new spin on things. Death could never bring down God's Son as long as He stayed in heaven. But when Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, He became fully human. And that meant, for the first time, Death had a chance to bring down the ultimate Prize, the Son of God. He knew that human beings were many things, but most of all, they were earthly, they were temporal, and they were terminal. Although Death knew the prophecies about how God's Son would die on a cross, he felt he had nothing to lose and everything to gain. That's why he tried to derail God's plan of salvation right at the start. It took little effort to have jealous king Herod dispatch his soldiers to slaughter the newborn King. Although death missed his Mark, it was hardly more than an inconvenience. He would try again. He did try again when he encouraged Jesus' old neighbors in Nazareth to throw Him off a cliff. He tried again when he suggested to the religious establishment that they ought to have the Savior stoned.

Repeated failures to eliminate Jesus did nothing more than strengthen Death's resolve. "Perhaps," he reasoned, "I might be more successful when Jesus is carrying the sins of the world. Those sins will crush Him into the ground. That's when I'll get my chance." And so it was. As Jesus fell, face forward, in the dirt of Gethsemane's garden; as He sweat, as it were, great drops of blood; as He shouldered the sins of every one of us, Death came. If you had been there, you could have seen the torches of the High Priest's henchman; you would have seen the Savior's disciple betray Him with a kiss; you would have seen the Lord of life, the ultimate Passover Lamb, bound and led away to die.

Knowing Jesus was guiltless, Death snickered at the ridiculous lies which were told about Jesus when He was railroaded at a trial before the Jewish' Sanhedrin. Death smiled when Pontius Pilate protested Jesus' innocence and then caved in the face of public opinion. Death stirred up the crowd as they shouted for the crucifixion of the Christ and he celebrated when Pilate conceded and said, 'Take Him away. Let Him be crucified.' Memories of past frustrations and failures were set aside as death saw the great, square-headed iron nails being hammered into the wrists, and the ankles, of the Savior. He rejoiced as the cross was set into place and Jesus began the process of dying.

Death appreciated what was happening and applauded the efficiency of the Roman death squad. Later on in history some doubters would suggest that those executioners didn't do their job that day. They say that Jesus blacked out or went into a coma and He revived in the coolness of His borrowed tomb. Death knew better. Those Romans were some of his most adept assistants. They crucified tens of thousands of men, women, and children and nobody, nobody ever escaped the finality of the Roman cross.

Death took great pleasure in watching Jesus die. He watched as Jesus writhed upon the cross. He listened as Jesus forgave those who had murdered Him; provided for the mother who had borne Him; spoke comfort to the thief who turned to Him; called out to the Father who had left Him. Around the sixth hour, Death started to pay closer attention. The earlier beatings, and yes, yes, our sins, had weakened the Savior's physical constitution. Death knew the signs which always heralded the end. Jesus was fading; His breathing was failing; His heart was racing. In the final moments, Death came right up to the Savior so he would see the closing moments of Jesus' life. Yes, He was somewhat surprised when Jesus, right before He died, loudly stated, "It is finished," but it made little difference. Jesus was dead. The Roman spear into Jesus' heart was icing on the cake. Death had won, God had lost and Jesus was finished.

And so were many other things. For example, man's hope was finished. Man's salvation was finished. Man's future, finished. Man's redemption, finished. Man's atonement, finished. As far as Death was concerned, it had been a good day, an excellent day. Jesus had been defeated and humanity was damned. Death knew, if he lived for more than a million times a million years, he would never again see another day as good as that Friday almost 2,000 years ago.

Death rejoiced, but he was not alone. The High Priests would have been laughing, smiling because Christ was dead, and the Danger they had feared had, well, it had passed over. Herod would have turned to his lackeys, his cronies, his entourage and shown his pleasure. He had managed to get rid of another crazy Prophet, this One worse than the Baptizer. But this time, Herod had managed to do the deed without getting his hands bloody.

Of course not everyone was glad. That first Good Friday night, Pilate would have been busy trying to mend the broken bridges between himself and his wife. He would have had to explain the necessity, the political expediency, of letting Jesus die. It would take some time, though, if ever, before she forgot the fact that her husband had ignored her good counsel and had a man crucified whom he knew to be innocent. Jesus' disciples, they spent their time cringing and cowering. They had seen their world crumble, their dreams of ruling kingdoms die alongside their Master. Now they had to make themselves so small, so insignificant that they would be forgotten. That first Good Friday night, Jesus' most faithful followers, the women who had followed Him from Galilee, who had seen where His dead body had been buried, with quiet tones and through tears made their plans to make sure Jesus would be given a proper burial. That first Good Friday night everyone knew Death had won. One more Man had died. His passing would not change the world. In a very short time, people would remember Jesus no more.

That first Good Friday night, everyone knew that Death had been victorious. Everyone knew it, except for Death, himself. Something was wrong. Something was tragically, terribly wrong. Death received reports from hell and Satan. The demonic dancing had, all of a sudden, stopped. Jesus had appeared to them. But the Jesus they were seeing was not a defeated Jesus; He was not a dead Jesus; nor was He a damned Jesus. In front of them was standing a Jesus, no longer limited in His power. Before them appeared a Jesus fully armed with all the attributes of God. In victory, Jesus came to them, stood before them, extended His nail-pierced hands toward them; let them see His spear-sliced side, and they knew. They knew they had lost and Christ had won. Death no longer was a one-way ticket to the terrors of hell. That first Good Friday, you see, is the day that death died. This is his eulogy. Death no longer has a sting. The grave no longer has a final victory. Everyone who has Jesus as Savior, has a bridge... a blood-bought bridge between earth and heaven. They know Death's strangle-hold on humanity has been broken and whoever believes on Jesus as God's Son will not perish but have everlasting life.

True, it would take until Resurrection Sunday before the world would find out what hell had already discovered. It would take until Sunday before the world would realize that Jesus would not be forgotten. It would take until Sunday before humanity knew that Jesus had, through His perfect life, managed to defeat sin; through His resistance of temptation, frustrated the devil; through His sacrifice on the cross, had defeated death. It would take until Sunday before this sad, sorry, sinful world would realize there is One Man, and One Mediator between God and Man. It would take until Sunday... and then on Sunday, the world would hear. And what would they hear? They would hear the three, most beautiful words in the world. They would hear: "Christ is risen!"

Death has been defeated.

Audio version of the above by Pastor Klaus

I know it may seem strange to see a Lutheran sermon on a Catholic apologetics site, but I, for one, cannot deny when those in my former faith "get things right," and this is one of those situations.

Addendum, Holy (Maundy) Thursday, 3/28/2013

Well, I posted the complete sermon because I truly enjoyed the overall message, now COULD I have been more critical?  Certainly.  Rather than give the nod to those parts we agree upon, let me focus on some of the points where there may be some disagreement...

Parents know that children grow quickly, and as they grow, they like to challenge their boundaries and abilities. It was no different for Death. In no time at all, Death considered the entire world to be his playpen. He found himself adept at activities like Hide-And-Seek. Hide anywhere you wanted, he would find you. Run as fast as you could, Death would catch you. He never tired of his endless game. He never napped; he never rested. He just grew stronger.

That Death would catch you is mostly true - but not 100% true, even for the people of the Old Covenant, for we have examples of Enoch and Elijah who were taken to Heaven without death.  We also have evidence in the New Testament that those who did die under the Old Covenant were not “dead” but alive in Heaven!  Where you ask?  Well, the most blatant example would be at the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ where Moses, who died centuries earlier, was clearly “alive” with Jesus and the three Apostles who accompanied Him.  Pastor Klaus does recognize Enoch and Elijah later, but not Moses.

Yes, they had met before, but Jesus' birth put a new spin on things. Death could never bring down God's Son as long as He stayed in heaven. But when Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, He became fully human. And that meant, for the first time, Death had a chance to bring down the ultimate Prize, the Son of God. He knew that human beings were many things, but most of all, they were earthly, they were temporal, and they were terminal. Although Death knew the prophecies about how God's Son would die on a cross, he felt he had nothing to lose and everything to gain. That's why he tried to derail God's plan of salvation right at the start. It took little effort to have jealous king Herod dispatch his soldiers to slaughter the newborn King. Although death missed his Mark, it was hardly more than an inconvenience. He would try again. He did try again when he encouraged Jesus' old neighbors in Nazareth to throw Him off a cliff. He tried again when he suggested to the religious establishment that they ought to have the Savior stoned.
Pastor Klaus does not mention the Temptations of Jesus Christ wherein Death, if you will, tempted Jesus to give up the mission and follow him.  Jesus resisted those temptations - that would be yet another victory over Death.

Skipping to the end...

True, it would take until Resurrection Sunday before the world would find out what hell had already discovered.
It is Easter Sunday.  This is what Christians have called this Sunday, that glorious day of all days, for nearly 2 millenia.  Yes, it is the day of the Resurrection - but why change the name?  Because it is too “Catholic?”

It would take until Sunday before the world would realize that Jesus would not be forgotten. It would take until Sunday before humanity knew that Jesus had, through His perfect life, managed to defeat sin; through His resistance of temptation, frustrated the devil; through His sacrifice on the cross, had defeated death. It would take until Sunday before this sad, sorry, sinful world would realize there is One Man, and One Mediator between God and Man. It would take until Sunday... and then on Sunday, the world would hear. And what would they hear? They would hear the three, most beautiful words in the world. They would hear: "Christ is risen!"

Death has been defeated.
Yes, Christ is risen - He is risen indeed!  As you can see, I only have some minor points of contention here - and overall, Pastor Klaus’ sermon was and is quite moving.  

It's Palm Sunday!

2013 Palm Sunday, Pope Francis

Welcome to Palm Sunday!

This is the last Sunday in Lent, and begins Holy Week.  If you have been faithful to your Lenten penance, great!  One more week!  If you've slipped up, it's not too late!  Renew your penance for Holy Week.   

Today we celebrate our Lord's praised entry into Jerusalem, and we prepare for His Passion, yet to come.

Keep in mind, regardless of your penance, on Good Friday it is a day of abstinence from meat AND a day of fasting.  You are allowed one full, but meager meal, and two smaller ones and the two smaller ones cannot add up to the one full meal.  

May God richly bless you this Holy Week. 

What plans do you have?  Are you going to Maundy (Holy) Thursday Mass?  Good Friday?   Easter Vigil?  Extra-Ordinary (Traditional Latin) Rite?

How are we Saved?

Have you ever been confronted with the question:

- If you died today, how sure are you of getting to heaven? Scripture teaches that we are saved through faith alone, yet the Catholic Church teaches a false doctrine of salvation by works, which do you believe, the Scripture or the Catholic Church?

Here’s the Catholic response:

1- Scripture and the Church never contradict each other. The Church WROTE the Scriptures

2- The Catholic Church does not, nor has it ever, taught a salvation by works.

3- The Church teaches a salvation by Grace alone. Our response to this gift of God is what determines if we are justified in the eyes of God. Our response must include first the response of faith and the response of works (doing His Will). But these responses are only possible because of God’s Grace.

We can’t do anything without God’s Grace. Both faith and works are preceded by God’s Grace, accompanied by God’s Grace, and followed by God’s Grace. Both Catholic and Protestant believe in salvation by Grace alone. We have a common belief there.

The difference is the Protestant believes that God’s righteousness is imputed to us, covers up our sinfulness, we are legally declared righteous through our faith alone. The Catholic believes that through faith, and the works that perfect faith, God doesn’t just declare us righteous He actually makes us righteous. Although we believe that works are a necessary part of our salvation, we do not teach a doctrine of salvation by works.

The general consensus in the Protestant world is if one truly accepts Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and repent of their sins…BOOM they’re saved. They are justified in the eyes of God. They are born again.

An evangelical site points out that we must be BORN AGAIN! And this is the way they explained how to do it:

1- All are sinners, including me
2- Only God through Christ can save me.
3- Believe on Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior
4- Pray to Jesus acknowledging these three points.

If I have prayed honestly believing it in my heart, then I am born again. There’s only one problem with this understanding of being born again. It’s not Scriptural. Jesus defines what it means to be born again in the Gospel of John, Chapter 3 verses 3 through 5. He says:

unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John3:3)

Not understanding what Jesus meant, Nicodemus asks Him to explain. Jesus said in answer,

Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)

Both the Spirit and water is involved in the process of being born again and yet the Evangelical idea of being born again doesn’t even mention the use of water. What do you think Jesus is referring to here? Once done discussing being born again through water and spirit with Nicodemus we see that Jesus “…and his disciples came into the land of Judea: and there he abode with them and baptized.” (John 3:22)

So, we are saved by being born again, by being baptized. What else does baptism do? Peter gives us a great explanation in his speech to the crowds on Pentecost Sunday. He declared the truth about Jesus and told everyone “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

We receive the remission of our sins, as well as the gift of the Holy Spirit at baptism. The Lord God explained to us many centuries ago that He would do this. He said: “…I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you… And I will put my spirit within you.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

Let’s compare Peter’s explanation with the Lord’s from the book of Ezekiel.
Peter said: “Be baptized”

God in Ezekiel said: “I will sprinkle clean water upon you”

Peter said: “for the remission of sins”

God in Ezekiel said: “and you shall be clean from all your filthiness”

Peter said: “you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”

God in Ezekiel said: “And I will put my spirit within you.”

So baptism involves water AND the Spirit while assuming faith is involved because Peter said to REPENT, we can’t do that unless we accept that we have done wrong by God. This involves some degree of faith in Him. Being born again means to be baptized and that’s why Peter can also say that “Baptism…now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet 3:21).

We are saved by being born-again through baptism and we are also born-again in the Protestant version whenever we make conscious returns to Christ. The Biblical definition of being ‘born again’ though simply means being baptized in the faith.

Remember, It's Friday

It's the last Friday of Lent.  I thought I'd share something different.  This was posted on facebook by CatholicMemes.com.

Don't forget next Friday is Good Friday.  It is a day of fast and abstinence.  We only eat one meager meal (for those over 14 and under 60) and you may have food that adds up to less than one other meal.

Just in time for Holy Week

Magnificat has posted their Holy Week missal online.  Anyone can access it for FREE!  So "favorite" it now for use during Holy Week.

Rogier van der Weyden "Angels Carrying the Instruments of Passion"
from the altarpiece "The Last Judgement" (1449)

This is the image used on the cover (this is not the cover image).  Go here to access the Holy Week Magnificat free.

Remember we start Holy Week on Palm/Passion Sunday on March 24th. 

Green Baggins Sola Scriptura

I recently stumbled across the "Green Baggins" blog and found it is often discussing Catholicism.  One of their recent articles (which does not identify who wrote it, so I would assume it is by the Rev. Lane Keister, a Presbyterian minister who hosts the blog) is on a topic I have recently discussed and raises some points worth commenting on . . .
Sola Versus Solo Scriptura Revisited  February 6, 2013 at 4:38 pm
This post will not be an attempt to hash out all the arguments adduced in Bryan Cross’s original review of Mathison, or Mathison’s response, or Liccione’s response to Mathison. I do want to point out a few things, however.
First of all, I think Liccione gave away the barn when he said,
Catholic theologians generally understand Scripture as the divinely inspired norma normans for other secondary authorities, including the Church. That means that, once the biblical canon was formed, whatever was admitted from other authorities had to conform to and cohere with Scripture. No authority may introduce anything as de fide that is logically incompatible with Scripture or otherwise fails to cohere with it. Other authorities are thus norma normata: they are “normed” by Scripture rather than vice-versa.
To put it mildly, this is NOT what I have read in Roman Catholic sources. 
That which may or may not have been read in Catholic sources is merely an anecdotal analysis of the Catholic position, and is not accurate.  The fact is, as stated, no authority may introduce anything as de fide that is logically incompatible with Scripture - and no authority has, period.  
In the Second Vatican Council’s document on divine revelation, Dei Verbum (Latin: "The Word of God"), the relationship between Tradition and Scripture is explained: "Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit. To the successors of the apostles, sacred Tradition hands on in its full purity God’s word, which was entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. "Thus, by the light of the Spirit of truth, these successors can in their preaching preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known. Consequently it is not from sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same devotion and reverence."  (Qtd from: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/scripture-and-tradition)
CCC 133 The Church "forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ. (Qtd. from: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s1c2a3.htm).
Perhaps Keister will rethink his position on this?
Generally the partim-partim understanding has prevailed, which is that divine revelation is contained partly in Scripture, partly in tradition. 
I would grant Keister this statement, but not his next...
In practice, tradition trumps Scripture. 
Tradition never trumps Scripture - in fact no Sacred Tradition can be contrary, nor is contrary to Scripture.
For instance, even supposing a Roman Catholic canon, the argument from Maccabees about purgatory is that prayer for the dead means that the church can help the dead. The problem is that the passage they usually cite has people praying for idolaters. Idolatry is mortal sin, and cannot be something purged away in purgatory, which is only for the cleansing of the temporal punishments of venial sin (I have yet to see this argument answered by Roman Catholics). Therefore, since Maccabees cannot support their understanding of purgatory, Tradition makes purgatory necessary in spite of its having no support in Scripture. By this method of procedure, the church can invent anything it wants, “find” a justification for it in Scripture, and then stoutly say that the Tradition has supported it all along. 
Keister is mixing topics here and is essentially diverting from his thesis.  It is undeniable that 2 Maccabees makes positive reference to praying for the dead. We could get into the debate on the reasons of 2 Maccabees, but that would distract from his thesis.  The fact remains that 2 Maccabees discusses praying for the dead as a practice of the Jewish people prior to the existence of Christians.  The point is, the Catholic position on this is not one invented by Catholics, as Keister would like you to believe; rather it is a tradition of Jewish origination and is not contrary to Scripture - regardless of one's position on the canonicity of 2 Maccabees.    
A very vocal minority at Vatican I, by way of contrast, led by Bishop Strossmayer, strongly rejected papal infallibility, stating that Scripture and history were strongly against it. But that would not deter the pro-papal authority crowd.
It would not and could not deter the pro-papal authority crowd because neither Scripture nor history is against it!  Scripture records Jesus laying the foundation for papal authority in Matthew 16:18-19.  Kiester's point is duly noted, it was a very vocal minority, but a misinformed one.
The other problem with this quotation is the statement “No authority may introduce anything as de fide that is logically incompatible with Scripture or otherwise fails to cohere with it.” On Roman Catholic principles, however, since the Magisterium can interpret the Bible to say what they want, then by definition no de fide statement could ever possibly be introduced that was logically incompatible with Scripture. 
It does not take the Magisterium to come up with logical arguments for or against.  The fact is that Scripture itself teaches that it is the Church which is the pillar and ground of truth, not the written word.
Liccione is here actually borrowing a Protestant principle that is incompatible with the Roman Catholic position. There is the assumption implicit in the statement that the Bible has a logical system all its own apart from interpretation, to which de fide statements must conform. This is the very position they accuse Protestants of holding! If the Magisterium holds the exclusive key to authoritative interpretation of the Scripture, then Liccione’s statement is devoid of teeth.
Keister presents us with a false dilemma here, the Scriptures do not have to be "a logical system all its own."  Scripture makes statements like "Thou shalt not covet..." as de fide, and no authority can come up with a teaching contrary to these.  Now when it comes to sola scriptura, Scripture is contrary to this!  As stated earlier, it is the Church which is the pillar and ground of truth (1 Timothy 3:15), not a book or collection of books (which the Church, with the Holy Ghost,  assembled!).  
Liccione/Cross also failed to deal with what is generally regarded as the most severe problem associated with Tradition: where is it? As we noted before, Tradition usually boils down to what the current church says. But this confuses the Tradition with the Magisterium. There are supposed to be 3 sources of infallible authority in the RCC: Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium. 
Keister again falls into the false dilemma fallacy here - since the Magisterium is PART OF Tradition!  Where is tradition?  2 Thes. 2:15 tells the objective reader.  
The more modern Newmanesque version of Tradition, however, collapses Tradition and the Magisterium, thus making what the early church fathers said practically useless. 
I'm not sure what Keister means here, perhaps he can elaborate?
I was somewhat flabbergasted recently when Bryan Cross admitted to me that it wouldn’t really matter if even more than half of the ECF did not believe that Matthew 16′s “petra” was a reference to Peter.
Well, regardless of numbers - all along there have been many who believed and professed that "petra" or in the language Jesus was likely speaking there, "kephas," refers to the person of St. Peter.  Even those who do not directly link it to St. Peter's person, they relate it to the testimony of St. Peter.  Now, taken within the context of the rest of Scripture - we see that the Apostles are considered the 12 foundations - (Rev. 21:14) so when Jesus is speaking of "building" His Church, it is not logical to jump from the person, whom He just renamed "Kephas" (meaning rock) to the confession of Kephas.  But again, the thesis here is that Tradition cannot contradict Scripture - and clearly, here it does not.
This certainly reflects a non-Vincentian understanding of Tradition. But isn’t Trent Vincentian in its understanding of Tradition? I would argue that it clearly is Vincentian. 
I am not sure what Keister means by "Vincentian" and will not speculate.  If he wishes to clarify, perhaps we can deal with the particulars here.
What authority does the later church have to re-interpret what Trent said? 
Well, the Church has EVERY authority to bind or loose "whatsoever" she chooses!  Scripture confirms this!
And if the ECF’s did not, on the whole, believe that “petra” equals Peter, then by what authority does the Magisterium trump Tradition? Oh, I get it, the Magisterium also gets to interpret the Tradition (read, define it!). Quite frankly, this turns church history, the ECF’s, and the Bible into a complete wax nose: it means whatever the church today says it means, regardless of what it might actually say. All contrary evidence can be therefore safely ignored. The evidence, however, will not be so quickly domesticated. Protestants, it should be noted, do not have to do this. I can freely acknowledge that what is believed today in the RCC can be found among the ECF’s (in a very inchoate form), though I would be quick to point out that what Protestants believe would also be found there. But if you listen to many Roman Catholics, it is as if there no evidence whatsoever, and no arguments whatsoever against their position!
Well, in the case of this Roman Catholic, I freely admit there are testimonies in the Early Church Fathers, ECFs, which state something which many Protestants would accept - that the statement is directed toward the testimony of St. Peter, and not St. Peter himself - but again, I have already pointed out the logical fallacy in that thinking.  I would remind Keister, and the reader here, that the Church is not based upon what "some" think - but upon that which Jesus Christ empowered the Church either in the successor of St. Peter or in the body of the bishops together to decide an issue (we call an "ecumenical council").  The bottom line here is not in what some said one way or the other, but in what the Church says.    
Speaking of Trent, one assumes that the RCC believes that everything Trent said was infallible (and if it isn’t, who gets to define it? And how do we know which parts are infallible and which aren’t?). 
Not every word of the Council of Trent is infallible, similarly, not every word of a document, such as a papal bull, defining a dogma is infallible.  The ONLY place where Trent and papal documents are infallible is in the specific section(s) which define a dogma.
However, most Roman Catholic biblical scholars today ignore the first article of the fourth session, which states that Hebrews was written by Paul. By what authority do modern Roman Catholic biblical scholars go against the infallible decrees of Trent? Has anyone ever been disciplined for this? This was in the section on the canon, by the way, so an anathema sits on those who do not believe everything in that article (see Denzinger, 1503-1504).
Again, Keister is misrepresenting the Catholic Church here - as I said, not everything in Trent is infallible - and the part which mentions Paul as the author of Hebrews (a fact still disputed in many circles, Catholic and Protestant alike) and the chapter he refers to does contain an infallible decree, but the section which contains the statement about St. Paul and Hebrews is not the same section as the infallible decree!  The decree part from Trent IV is as follows:
If anyone does not accept as sacred and canonical the aforesaid books in their entirety and with all their parts, as they have been accustomed to be read in the Catholic Church and as they are contained in the old Latin Vulgate Edition, and knowingly and deliberately rejects the aforesaid traditions, let him be anathema.
The infallible decree only applies to the books, not the author(s) of them.
It would be good, perhaps, to go through all of Bryan’s post section by section. Maybe sometime I will do that. For now, a teaser. Bryan argues that the individual is still the ultimate interpretive authority, even in Sola Scriptura, because he chooses his church based on what agrees with his theology. And, if he should at some time choose to believe something else, then too bad for the church. One other thing I did notice about Bryan’s article is that he quoted Mathison’s words to the effect that all Bible reading is interpreted reading. He quoted these words about ten times. But, as Mathison pointed out, he was really using the word in the sense of simply understanding what was there: not implying that what is said is unclear, and therefore has to be interpreted by some infallible magisterium. 
Keister's argumentation here is not very focused and difficult to pin down, other than it is about the individual interpreter being the ultimate authority, for Protestants - and that all scriptural reading is interpretive reading.  These are points I would tend to agree with, if indeed that is what he is stating is what Cross and/or Mathison is saying.  The point, however, is not in what any individual, even myself, says online - but in what the Church REALLY teaches.    
As to the substantive point about Sola Scriptura that Bryan brings up, I would answer it in brief with these observations. 1. Just because a person disagrees with his particular church about something does not mean that he reserves the right to leave it. The membership vows of the PCA, for instance, require the member to study the purity and peace of the church. This means that if the person disagrees with the church, he will start talking about the matter to the leadership. Most of the time, the issue can be settled in this way. 
But, if the issue is NOT resolved, the individual goes off to find another "church!"  Cross' point is not assailed in the least by Keister's reply.
2. Also, the vows include submission, which is to say that a proper keeping of the vow will include giving the church the benefit of the doubt in the case of a difference. The fact of the matter is that if the leadership of the church cannot convince the person of the incorrectness of his views (assuming the issue is large enough to warrant separation, such as the difference between paedo-baptism and credo-baptism), then the leadership should recommend that the member go to another church. The member does not have this responsibility all on his own. In other words, Bryan’s picture of supposed individualism does not take into account how shepherding is actually supposed to work. It is not the individual who should be shuttling around to various churches. It is the church which should shepherd the people. If the difference is not a matter on the level of importance indicated (take post-millenialism versus amillenialism), then the member should just continue to learn and discuss, and not leave the church (after all, everyone differs on some things), and be respectful to promote the purity and peace of the church. What I am describing, of course, is the ideal situation. We live in a fallen world, where people do not even recognize this shepherding function of the church. And thus, individuals leave on the flimsiest of excuses nowadays, even the color of the carpet! I would decry this form of individualism just as much as the Roman Catholics would. Surely, even Roman Catholics and Protestants can agree that 1 Corinthians 12 would preclude this kind of thinking!
I would assume here that Keister is referring to verses 12 and following of 1 Cor. 12, wherein the parts of the body cannot decide for themselves they can leave, however likewise it says that the eye cannot say to the foot, "I do not need you" - so Keister's example of the PCA leadership telling someone to go to another church is not scriptural either.  Now the Church can excommunicate, but even that is not truly separation!  Excommunication separates one from the Sacraments, save one - and that is Confession.  Until the excommunicant restores his/her self to communion with the Church, they are forbidden from partaking in the other Sacraments - but they are STILL required to attend Mass and they are STILL under the authority of the Catholic Church (whether the individual admits to this or not is irrelevant).  And this is for the same reason as before - the foot, even if it is separated from the body is still part of that body!   There is no valid recommendation for a Catholic to go to another church, for this is no other valid Church!  THAT is the point of 1 Cor. 12:12-31

Well, after going through the whole article now, I think the reader can see that there really wasn't a discussion of the difference between sola and solo scriptura!  First of all here let me clarify for the reader - there really is no linguistic difference between solo and sola - one is masculine, the other is feminine for the same word/meaning - so when coupled with the feminine "scriptura" - only "sola" is appropriate.  Some apologists like to make the distinction that "solo scriptura" is the teaching that if it is not found in Scripture then it is not authoritative at all whereas "sola scriptura" allows for other authorities, but Scripture is the sole infallible authority.  Both concepts are wholly untenable and contrary to Scripture, regardless of the naming convention applied.  As I peruse Keister's blog, perhaps I will find an article more on point and/or maybe he will engage this discussion more directly after reading my response.

Scott Windsor<<<

Feast of the Assumption

 The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - another example of "not-so-ordinary" days! These are COUNTING days - and...